A deeply personal journey to interfaith collaboration that offers hope for an inclusive and healing way of being together in the world.
In today’s climate of inter religious conflicts, mainly due to the politicizing of religion as well as the steadfast believe that each religion is separate and need to be “tolerant” with one another, this book is like a breath of fresh air.
Interfaith dialogue is not the same as inter religious dialogue. To me it strips away the doctrines, the laws and all the restrictions and agendas by the institutions and goes right to the core of the faith traditions.
Telling stories, especially personal stories is an art. It needs to allow the person feel “Yes, that could be me” or “Ok, I get that”. It needs to resonate with the reader and for some reason I feel that this book does that. The authors draw the reader in gently, weaving personal stories from three different perspectives, interspersed with a joint narrative – three voices as one and then gives us the “how to” suggestions in incorporating inter-faith dialogue in our own lives.
The fear (biases, prejudices) that most feel when inter-faith dialogue comes about is the fear of coerced into converting. Our faith is something that is very personal and close to each of us. It’s like family – have you noticed that you are okay with ranting about your family, but when someone else (even if it is your significant other or BFF) says exactly the same thing, you get angry. It’s as if they have over stepped this boundary that shouldn’t be done …at all!. Even an atheist believes in some thing – that there is no God, and that *is* a believe.
So when the authors of this book narrate to us their personal experiences of the coming together of the three faith traditions that throughout history seem to just not get along, for some reason or another, they make it a point to repeat that inter-faith dialogue and the steps that they propose actually helps us to appreciate and get to know our own faiths more deeply. It allows us to be comfortable in acknowledging the dualities of our own faith traditions.
The 5 steps that the authors propose are:
- Moving beyond separation and suspicion
- Inquiring more deeply
- Sharing both the easy and the difficult parts
- Moving beyond safe territory
- Exploring spiritual practices from other traditions.
Each step makes a chapter of its own and in each chapter the authors separately and then together tell their story. They also give us points and questions to work on. There are parts of the book when I could feel my heart expand and wanting to cry. It’s like a longing for a world where we can be open to embrace the Universals that all religions / faith traditions teach us. It’s sad when religious institutions because of their need to survive make us feel that we need to defend our faiths, when in reality these faith traditions came to us to bind us, to allow us to rise above ourselves and become the greatness of who we truly are.
The story that most touched my heart is when the pastor, the rabbi and the imam all participated in the Communion service at a service. The rabbi and the imam shared the experience by handing out the Eucharist to the worshipers and even though there was some reservations of how the parishioners would react to this, it surprised them as the lines to receive the Eucharist were the longest where the rabbi and the imam stood. Having the courage and the deep faith in their own traditions to allow them to participate in such an activity was amazing!
Another story told was about a Jewish who came across two Muslim men washing themselves before prayers. He noticed the total reverence that these two men gave this ritual prayer and this touched him so deeply that he carried that feeling with him when he said his own prayers.
Reading this book made me realize that for this to work it has to start small, between friends and people at the grass-roots. We can’t wait for political will to champion this because it takes away power from the powerful.
It is the hope of these three amigos from different paths that interfaith spirituality allows us to live less wastefully, when we realize that the world and this universe is our responsibility; to be more compassionate towards others, where basic human needs are fulfilled without resorting to violence and for us to have full access to all human and civil rights for everyone.
We dream of a world awakening to the essential Oneness that contains us all – The Three Interfaith Amigos
Rating: 5 stars – Totally recommend this book to anyone who might be curious or interested in Interfaith dialogue.